I am a Community Organiser whose job is to build the power of civil society so that it holds the state and the market to account. Strong civil society is important for a functioning democracy. As a human rights campaigner and advocate, I believe we should do a lot to make the world a better place to live in; a place of tolerance and respect to the right to life. I strongly believe no one has come to this world with the rights to infringe others' rights. This blog reflects my personal views.
Saturday, 21 October 2017
Community Sponsorship of Refugees - Where it all begun for me
I still recall
sitting in a room with colleagues from Citizens UK to talk about the worsening
refugee crisis; talking about what we could do to discharge ourselves
responsibly. That goes back all the way to September 2015. Yes, that time
needed some bold decisions and we have never been shy from taking such
decisions. It was important to step in and do our bits to see change happen. Yes, it wasn't enough to feel sorry about the crisis; we had to do something about it. But we couldn’t do it on our own. That was why we had to organise, organise and
organise. It was all about creating a movement out of the moment. After all it
takes us all to address the crisis.
We have gone a long
journey since then. The time in between has not been simple. It has had its ups
and downs. But we know that life is not a bed of roses and we should stand up
to challenges and use these challenges as opportunities to organise and change
the course of history.
But for me it was
beyond a call of duty. I have the experience of fleeing my home country.
Seeking sanctuary and adjusting to life in my new home – Britain. I am a living
testimony that Britain is a more humane and one of the most welcoming countries
in the world. That is what I saw when I travelled up and down the country to
work with people that were keen to welcome refugees. From Lewes to Totnes, from
Petersfield to Cheltenham, from Bath to Crawley, from Leicester to Devon and
many more places I had the opportunity to go to, people were keen to welcome
and integrate refugees. They were ready for more practical work. People ready
to get stuck in. That life changing experience taught me that we needed a
scheme where communities could take charge of refugee welcome and become part
of the integration process.
introduction of the community sponsorship scheme in July 2016 was a commendable first step. For people like me, getting it right on arrival is more than important.
The first few years have impact on the lives of newcomers, especially for
integration. And I believe community sponsorship can give that opportunity to newcomers.
Many people tell me that they are sad to see fellow humans denied
the right to a decent life which strips people of their dignity as human beings.
And the same people tell me that we all have a humanitarian responsibility to
allow refugees the freedom to get sanctuary and rebuild their lives.
Welcome Summit September 2016
The culmination of
the first phase of our welcome work was 10th September 2016, when we
had a welcome summit in Birmingham which brought together more than 550
community leaders from across the country. By the end of the summit, it was
important to prioritise where to concentrate on in the coming months and years and
luckily promotion of community sponsorship was one of the three areas. And for
me, it was once again a very good opportunity to work with communities across Britain
to promote refugee welcome through community sponsorship.
The journey has
gone from strength to strength and I am learning a lot through the process. It is more than encouraging to see newcomers resettled
in different parts of the country including in places like Narberth in Wales
and Devon. We now see people keen to
explore the scheme and do practical work. This is heart-warming.
Launch of Sponsor Refugees 42 pledges
To keep the ball
rolling and to promote community sponsorship further, the arrival of Citizens UK’s
new foundation, Sponsor Refugees, is more than a bonus. It was great to see
more than 25 groups and organisations willing and on course to welcome 42
families. This is only the beginning and it won’t be long until community sponsorship
becomes an established tradition in Britain as it is in Canada. I believe we should take the opportunity community
sponsorship brings to us and take charge of refugee welcome and integration. We
can do it and we can do it now. After all, if not us, then who? If not now, then